Strong performances in the sprints led the Galion boys’ track team to a seventh place finish in the Division II state track and field meet over the weekend.
The Tigers scored 20.5 points on the strength of finishing second in the 400-meter relay and fourth in the 800-meter relay, as well as getting a sixth-place finish by senior Drake Barnett in the 200. The team added points in the field events, as Colton Moore tied for fourth in the high jump.
The 400-meter relay entered Saturday’s finals as the favorite to take the top of the podium, as the quartet of Jacob Fryer, Colin McCullough, Houston Blair and Drake Barnett had the top semifinal time of 43.01 on Friday.
While they improved that time to 42.81 in the finals, setting a new school record in the process, Poland Seminary was able to finish two one-hundredths of a second faster. While finishing second was a mild disappointment to the runners, they were proud of their accomplishment.
“We made it to state and that’s an accomplishment in itself,” said Blair. “At the beginning of the year, we knew we were a good team, but didn’t know how far we’d make it. Then in prelims, we got the best time.”
Fryer added that the relay peaked at the right time.
“All weekend, we’ve been dropping time,” he said. “We’ve set the school record three times in a row.”
Barnett added that, due to injuries, the team tinkered with its line-up throughout the year. Originally, Harrison Ivy was supposed to be a member of the team, but after suffering a knee injury, the team had to search for a replacement, finally settling on McCullough partway through the year.
“We had Colin McCullough, who’s a hurdler and never been on a relay in his life, come in mid-season,” he said. “That was awesome of him to get out of his comfort zone. I’m really proud of the guys on the relays.”
Barnett, McCullough and Blair also teamed with Caleb Ivy to finish fourth in the 800-meter relay. The team had the fourth fastest semifinal time of 1:29.63 and then finished in that same place in the finals with a time of 1:29.83.
Barnett then added an individual placement, as he took sixth in the 200 in 22.3. In the semis, he had the fifth-fastest qualifying time of 22.12.
Also placing was Colton Moore in high jump, who cleared 6’4” to finish in a tie for fourth place. While Moore figured first place wouldn’t be a realistic possibility, as two-time defending champion Jeffrey Floyd was in the field, he was looking for a spot on the podium.
“It was kind of a battle for second because I knew I wasn’t getting 6’10”,” he said.
Moore, who overcame a strained ankle and hyperextended knee this year, was very happy with his performance.
“I’m real happy,” he said. “I was close to accomplishing all the goals I set. I broke the school record this year and got to the state podium.”
Also competing was Blair in the long jump. He finished 15th with an effort of 19’8.75”, but fouled on two of his three attempts and wasn’t able to make the finals.
For the girls’ team, which tallied two points, senior Dani Court placed seventh in the discus. After fouling her first two throws, she uncorked a heave of 122’6”, which placed her in the finals and earned her a spot on the podium.
“It feels great,” she said of placing. “It was exciting. I didn’t throw my best, but I’m so happy.”
Court entered the competition seeded 11th, so she was pleased with how she moved up four spots.
“I am happy — I moved up,” she said.
Marisa Gwinner competed in the high jump. The sophomore wasn’t able to duplicate last year’s third-place finish, as she finished just off the podium in ninth place, clearing 5’2. Taylor Valentine also competed in the 100 hurdles, finishing 13th in the semifinals in 15.44.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS